I am going to try valiantly to maintain some form of coherency, but I can say right now I’ll probably fail equally as valiantly. So. Siege and Storm, guys. I don’t even know where to start. First off, if you haven’t read Shadow and Bone yet I plead with you to rectify that now. (I’d point you to my review of it but it’s the most incoherent mess of me crying over the keyboard… which is likely what this will become). Second books in trilogies always tend to have a bad stigma. Generally, it’s assumed that they’re the filler book. Personally, I see this happening less and less as the second books frequently are my favourite (but we’re not picking favourites here if you ask me which one I prefer I’ll probably burst into tears), like The Demon’s Covenant was my favourite of the three in TDL series by Sarah Rees Brennan… I had more examples but I started thinking about this book and lost them all… oh! Catching Fire is easily my preferred book in The Hunger Games trilogy. So, I don’t know if second books are necessarily becoming better, I just think that sometimes plot needs to happen in the second book and people grow bored of it. I’m simply speculating, regardless, I’m pretty sure my point in the matter was that this was a really good second book. Which is a blatant understatement but I’m trying to not weep over the keyboard so let’s see how long that lasts. Let’s talk about the tagline! (or not, I’m verging into melodrama mode here) I just… really love the tagline of this book. Not only because I’m all for “killing” villains and bringing them back *pointed cough* but… just the idea. It’s pleasant. *says the girl blatantly biased in her opinions here.* Honestly, if you have to ask who my favourite character is then kindly step outside and I can discuss villains with you for at least 3 weeks. We can talk about the Darkling. I’ll probably cry. So things happen! RIGHT AWAY! When the first five chapters of this book were pre-released, I got through chapter 3 (hehhhhh. I really like… I really like chapter 3. (yay! Threats!)) and promptly laid down on the floor and never made it through the next two chapters until the book was in my hands. In this book we see new characters (man, I side-eyed Sturmhond like the entire time because I was so sure there was something shady there but IDK MAN. IDK ANYMORE WITH ANYTHING.) who are brilliant. (I feel like I should apologise for my parenthetical digressions. Oops) Privateers make up most of the newer characters, and then a lot of the old characters return. Especially one in particular. (*strained. Slightly maniacal smile*) I liked the new characters and I liked seeing more of Ravka, though I thought it was an interesting narrative choice to send Alina back to the Small Palace, just in terms of the second book opening up the world more, I thought it worked really well because then older characters came back too. The entire ARC with Alina being considered a saint and the religious iconography oh my god don’t even look at me right now. So, basically, Russian orthodox influences in a fantasy novel I could weep my eyes out with how much I love that. Religious world building in fantasy is already one of my favourite things, throwing influences of Russian orthodoxy as well is just too much for me. Too much. I actually died last week while reading this book I am actually a ghost. I’m also intrigued with how that will play out because that’s the outstanding plotline that was left unfinished. I… I could talk about the romance and how I feel about how that’s handled… but I feel like that’s where I’ll descend into incoherency. So. Here goes nothing I guess. Mal irritates me the longer he’s alive. (I’m super biased guys so be gentle with me) I genuinely liked him in the first book and now I’m sick to death of hearing how perfect Alina thinks he is even if it is set against her own self deprecation (which is interesting. The whole Mal is good at everything while I’m not mindset is interesting to me). You know how there are characters that you don’t necessarily want to see them die but also you kind of want to see them die just to see what happens to the story? Yeah. Not enough Darkling. If we leave it at that I’ll save myself some embarrassment. (We’re not leaving it at that. I’ll come back to this.) Mostly I want to talk about Alina because this was waaaaay more her book than anything else. Like, the whole romantic aspects of the story took a far backseat to Alina’s development. And I have no words for how pleased I am with Alina’s power hungry development oh my god I want more morally grey YA protagonists she is sooooo far down the moral scale and I can’t even really begin to talk about how excited that makes me because uhhh favourite thing!!! There’s a scene in the beginning where all it is is essentially Alina lusting for more power and I just kind of slid off my chair while reading it while whispering ‘yes.’ I connect with Alina a lot more than any other YA protagonist ever because characters who have power and acknowledge how good that power feels and want more and characters who will acknowledge their own shifting personalities and yeah they may have made choices that are awful and they may make choices that on the relative scale of things are ‘bad’ but those were the choices that needed to be made and they’re going to make those choices regardless (I’m not explaining this well sometimes it’s hard when I feel so strongly about something idk man) are at the highest peak for me. They are the best. And there aren’t many of them. (god this is just getting longer and longer) Ok, the Darkling. I don’t even… Everything was grand. He’s still the greatest ever and I’m still super biased and I still think he and my own Torin would get along great. (no, they’d try to kill each other or something idk man I think S&B Darkling could take out Book 1 Torin, but I think S&S Darkling and … post book 1 Torin is a different story. I think about this all the time you have to understand.) goD THE DARKLING’S POWERS IN THIS BOOK I WANTED TO DIE. Because they’re so great. :3 I don’t want to talk about the end of the book. Please don’t make me. I’m still emotionally ravaged. It was perfect for four pages (give or take idk) and then I wanted to die. But oh god those four pages. Those. Four. Pages. Like I don’t even have closing thoughts except I’m gonna go cry a little now goodbye friends my ghost is continuing on to the other side.